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Otago Museum seeking nominations for the South’s women of STEM

Who are the women in your community who make science, technology, engineering, or maths interesting and meaningful to you?

Is your friend always taking things apart to figure out how they work? Is Dissection Day your classmate’s favourite? Does your advisor challenge you to push your research further? Or perhaps your neighbour’s advice on how to properly condition soil is the only reason you’ve finally managed to grow veggies in your backyard?

Otago Museum is developing a digital portrait exhibition called 100 women, 100 words… infinite possibilities which will feature women and girls of all ages who actively embrace science, technology, engineering, and/or mathematics as part of their lives, and is on the hunt for nominations.

Jessa Barder, Otago Museum Science Engagement Coordinator says, “Similarly to the 125 Women – 125 of Dunedin Extra-Ordinary Women exhibition in 2018, we’re seeking nominations for 100 women and girls from Otago and Southland who actively live and work with STEM in all areas of their lives.”

Their photograph will be displayed along with a caption of 100 words describing the role STEM has played in their life.

The 100 women, 100 words… infinite possibilities portrait exhibition is part of an Unlocking Curious Minds-funded project called Full STE(a)M Ahead, for which Otago Museum has partnered with MacDiarmid Institute and Dodd-Walls Centre to deliver. The project seeks to change young people’s perceptions of who a scientist is, what they do, and how they do it, as, despite global efforts, a gender gap in STEM careers persists.

Jessa continued, “There are still many ingrained stereotypes about the role of women in science, even in the 21st century, that can stifle potential. This project, and the exhibition, are a gentle approach to opening up new ways of thinking. I hope people will see that female role models are role models for everyone, not only for other females.”

Nominations can be made at otagomuseum.nz/infinitepossibilities from 1 – 31 May 2020. The exhibition will open alongside workshops offered by GirlBoss NZ for school students in early December and will culminate with the Women in Science Expo, to mark the International Day of Women and Girls in Science on 11 February. After this, the exhibition will go on tour through Southland and Central Otago.

Jessa says, “We want to build relationships between the amazing women we have in our community who have engaged with science in both traditional and non-traditional ways and those who are curious about how it might fit into their lives. Science really is all around us, not just in schools and labs and I want young people in our community to get to know these women, either through the exhibition or in person, and be inspired by all the options science unlocks for them.”